Finding Hidden Manna
Every January one of the retired pastors in our church does a four-night winter Bible study series. This year he's teaching on Revelation 1-3. Last night we looked at the letters to the two churches of Smyrna and Pergamos (or Pergamum, depending on your translation) in Revelation 2. Each letter begins with a particular description of Jesus and ends with a promise to those who overcome.
One of the promises at the end of the letter to the church in Pergamos is what captured my attention last night. Jesus is speaking and He gives three specific promises to those who overcome:
I will give some of the hidden manna.
I will give him a white stone.
On the stone will be written a new name which no one knows but the one who receives it.
Hidden manna. I'd never really thought about it before. But the teacher made us stop and think about it by asking questions: Who received manna? When was it given? How did they have to gather it? God's people received it just after coming out of Egypt. It was God's provision for them from heaven. In fact, Psalms tells us that they were eating the bread of angels (Psalm 78:25). The Israelites ate manna the entire time they were in the desert, even though it was their own disobedience that caused them to be waylaid there for forty years. Oh, the gracious provision of God! The manna stopped when they entered the Promised Land, for in the Promised Land was abundant provision.
All throughout the wilderness wanderings, God sent manna from heaven like dew on the ground. They had to go out every morning, except for the morning of the Sabbath day, to collect the day's provision. Each person had to collect enough for themselves for each day. There was always enough, and they couldn't hold it over or it would go bad—except on the Sabbath when God had told them to collect enough on the day before to last for two days. It was a test of their trust in His Word and in His provision.
Everything that happened in the Old Testament to the people of Israel happened for our instruction that we might learn from it (I Corinthians 10:11). Spiritual metaphors are embedded in these historical events. So the Bible study teacher applied it to us. God wants to feed our souls and spirits with His Bread from heaven, the Word of God, but we have to open the Bible and read it every day just as they had to go out and gather the manna every morning. The provision is there, but we have to avail ourselves of it.
If we come to God through His Word each morning to learn of Him, He will feed us hidden manna. Jesus called Himself the true Manna from God (John 6:26-58). He will feed us with Himself, give us Himself. On the night before He died, Jesus told His disciples that after He would go back into heaven, the Holy Spirit would take of Christ and reveal it to us (John 16:13-14)—the Hidden Manna.
Several times in the Old Testament God talks about His hidden truth. In Job 28, Job likens wisdom to the treasures found in mining. They are hidden, deep below the surface, but God understands the depths of wisdom and knows where it's found. Job ends that chapter with "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom." Solomon uses this same mining metaphor in Proverbs 2. If we really want to know wisdom, we have to apply our hearts to understand it, cry out to God for it, and seek it as for hidden treasure. Then, Proverbs says, we will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. It's not right there on the surface; it's hidden. But God will give it to us as we seek Him daily in His Word.
David uses this same idea in Psalm 25: "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant." Solomon also talks about the Lord's secrets in Proverbs 3:32: "His secret counsel is with the upright." And Isaiah prophesies to the future king Cyrus that the Lord "will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places." God has hidden riches, secrets He wants to share with us. Jesus told Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" God has so much he wants to share with us and reveal to us—if we will only come daily to feed upon Him through His Word.
Spiritually most of us are starving though we don't realize it. We have masked our starvation with distractions and entertainment. God is offering us Bread from heaven that will nourish our souls. Will we turn from the junk food of the world to receive His hidden manna?